On a night where it honored late coach S.T. Roach by donning the green “Bearcats” uniforms from the old Dunbar High School, No. 4 Paul Laurence Dunbar played at a level Roach probably would have appreciated as it routed No. 9 Henry Clay 64-46 at home on Monday night.
Dontell Brown was a force down low for the Bulldogs, who improved to 9-1 against 11th Region competition. The junior finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks — the last two game highs. If the Bulldogs can get play like that from Brown consistently, they can be “a whole other level better,” Coach Scott Chalk said. Dunbar assistant coach Marquis Estill, who played at the University of Kentucky, has been giving special attention to bringing Brown along.
“He’s just getting a little better, a little better, a little better all the time,” Chalk said.
Henry Clay jumped out to 7-2 lead to open things. Dunbar responded with a 10-3 run to end the first quarter and never looked back.
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The Bulldogs built a 31-23 halftime lead and extended it to 47-33 at the end of three, after Jordan Lewis swished a three from the top of the key as time expired. Dunbar opened the final period on a 17-0 run to clear both benches.
“We had ‘em a little out of sorts,” Chalk said of that fourth-quarter explosion. “They were a little confused about what we were doing defensively. We made a couple of changes there in our press.”
The only sour note for the Bulldogs was that they were without Darius Williams most of the night. The standout senior picked up his second foul with 4:14 left in the first quarter. He finished with eight points on 3-for-6 shooting but had five turnovers and never really got into a rhythm.
One of Dunbar’s “big three” — Williams, senior point guard Jordan Lewis and junior wing Taveion Hollingsworth — always seems to get into foul trouble, Chalk said. The coach tried to reacclimate Williams to the game early with a few minutes in the second quarter.
“When you go to the bench … and you’re sitting there with two fouls and you’re sitting there for a long time, it’s like a whole other game you’re starting to warm up for,” Chalk said. “It’s hard to get back into it.”
Lewis, who had 14 points and four rebounds, said Dunbar has to come out every night and play with the intensity it had against Henry Clay. That lack of energy played into their loss to Madison Central last week, he said.
“Coach Chalk has been telling us all week, ‘Push the ball, push it until they stop you,’” Lewis said.
Isaiah “Pun” Tisdale had a game-high 18 points to lead Henry Clay. He was the only Blue Devil to finish in double figures.
Henry Clay girls roll
After a sloppy first quarter by both sides, Henry Clay took control with an 18-3 second period to win handily at Paul Laurence Dunbar, 55-22.
Orionna Woods led the visitors with 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting. Henry Clay outshot Dunbar 42.9 percent to 26.3, and won the turnover battle 12 to 27.
Henry Clay led 9-5 after the opening period, but Blue Devils Coach Eric Sanford wasn’t pleased with his team’s effort. He implored them to give the crowd something fun to watch. They responded with a run that put the game out of reach from a youth-driven Dunbar squad.
And the Blue Devils did it without star senior T’laya Lyvers, a nightly triple-double threat who missed her second straight game with an illness.
“This was an opportunity for us to step up,” Sanford said. “ … Everybody knows T’laya makes us go. We want these kids to be comfortable for the postseason so that if someone else goes down, we’re comfortable as a team and can play.”
Boys: Paul Laurence Dunbar vs. Henry Clay
Henry Clay (16-4) — Tisdale 18, Ridgeway 9, Brown 3, Houston 2, Simpson 4, Jackson 4, Williams 4, Green 2.
Dunbar (16-4) — D. Brown 11, Lewis 14, Hollingsworth 13, Williams 8, Clark 3, Kelley 7, J. Brown 4, Whiteside 4.
Girls: Henry Clay 55, Paul Laurence Dunbar 22
Henry Clay (11-6) — Lutz 11, D. Jackson 11, Price 3, Woods 14, Thompson 3, Long 6, Green 7.
Dunbar (5-9) — Herriford 2, P. Humphreys 3, Cotton 4, Cecil 10, Fullwood 1, Franklin 2.